New Cerezo striker Forlan welcomes challenge to be impact player


Uruguay striker Diego Forlan said he is confident he has made the right decision to play in Japan with Cerezo Osaka, and stated Wednesday he does not believe a move perceived as a step down to the J.League will affect his preparations for this summer’s World Cup finals in Brazil.

“I didn’t have any concerns or worries about coming to play in Japan. The level of soccer technically is very high and requires you to be tough physically,” Forlan said after being unveiled at a news conference at Nagai Stadium, where he introduced himself in fluent Japanese.

“On the contrary, to be playing in such a league I will be able to prepare well for the World Cup. The same thing will be required of me here as it has at the other clubs I have played for and that is to show what I can do and score lots of goals. It is a young team here and hopefully I can offer advice and my experience will rub off on the younger players.”

The 34-year-old Golden Ball winner and joint top scorer at the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa has joined Cerezo on a one-year deal after parting ways with Brazilian club Internacional.

Forlan has not played since December but said he is in good condition and is hoping to make his competitive debut when Cerezo open their Asian Champions League campaign away to South Korea’s Pohang Steelers on Feb. 25.

“The last game I played in was in the second half of the last game of the Brazilian championship on Dec. 4 and the move (to Cerezo) was decided after that,” said Forlan. “I had been in camp with the team and left so I haven’t played this year.”

“But I have been training and I think I am in good condition. Now I just have to practice and the important thing is to get my match fitness back,” said the former Independiente, Manchester United, Villarreal, Atletico Madrid and Inter Milan striker.

“I will accept whatever the coach (Ranko Popovic) decides to do but I have prepared myself over the last month before coming to Japan and hopefully I can make my debut on the 25th in the ACL and start the match if I can.

“Cerezo were fourth in the table last year and I will do my best to deliver results.”

Forlan, who endeared himself to the press when he ended his introduction in Osaka dialect by saying “okini” (thank you), said he was impressed with the eagerness that Cerezo had shown to sign him.

“I am delighted to join the club. I feel I have been given a very warm reception and that makes me more determined than ever.”

“After being told of the offer from my agent, I really felt passion from the club and that was the main reason I decided on this move.”

He impressed against Japan in a friendly in August last year, scoring twice as Uruguay won 4-2 in Miyagi Prefecture.